Venezuela Slams Posada Carriles Immigration Hearing

Venezuela's embassy in the U.S. issued a statement accusing the U.S. of double standards, in response to the possibility that the anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, whose extradition Venezuela is seeking, might remain in the U.S. because he would supposedly face torture in Venezuela.

Caracas, Venezuela, September 27, 2005—Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban-Venezuelan who is wanted for terrorism in Venezuela, will probably neither be extradited nor deported to Venezuela. The Venezuelan embassy in the U.S. reacted strongly to this turn of events, saying, “The Posada case reveals the Bush Administration’s double standard in its so-called war on terrorism.”

The hearings on whether Posada should be deported for violating U.S. immigration law concluded yesterday and the judge, William L. Abbott, is expected to make a final decision later this week. Posada’s attorney, Matthew Archambeault, told the press, “We are 99% certain that the judge is inclined to postpone the deportation.”

After hearing arguments, Judge Abbott said yesterday that there are sufficient grounds for not extraditing Posada under the provisions of the Convention Against Torture. According to Posada’s lawyers, Posada would face torture and possible extradition to Cuba if he were deported to Venezuela. The Convention Against Torture (CAT) states that individuals in U.S. custody may not be deported to countries where they could be subjected to torture. The Venezuelan government, however, has repeatedly denied that Posada would be extradited to Cuba or would face torture in Venezuela.

Posada is wanted in Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline that was flying from Venezuela to Cuba. All 73 passengers died in the crash. Posada denies that he was involved in the bombing, but recently declassified CIA documents reveal that Posada bragged to others about having planned the bombing. Posada is a notorious anti-Castro militant, who has been convicted of planning the assassination of Fidel Castro in Panama in 2000 and of placing bombs in Cuban tourist resorts in the 1990’s.

The Venezuelan embassy’s press release states the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which would normally be in charge of pursuing international terrorists, focused solely on Posada’s immigration matter. “Rather proceeding with the extradition of this self-confessed terrorist to stand trial for murder in Caracas, the U.S. Government has instead turned the case into a minor immigration matter in El Paso,” states the embassy’s press release.

The statement goes on to say that the U.S. government is abusing the Convention Against Torture to protect an internationally wanted terrorist. “There is no evidence that the government of Venezuela would torture Posada.  To grant CAT relief to Posada Carriles is to cynically twist an international treaty meant to protect innocent victims of torture into an instrument with which to shelter a terrorist.”

Venezuela’s embassy in the U.S. argues that the U.S. government contradicts itself because in a recent case involving two Venezuelan officers wanted for their participation in the 2002 coup attempt the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued against the application of the CAT. “In that case DHS argued against Torture Convention relief, because of the absence of evidence that Venezuela tortures its prisoners.   On the other hand, there is ample evidence that the United States engages in the systematic torture of its own prisoners at the Guantanamo Naval Base, the Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities,” said the embassy.

According to the embassy, there are three separate international treaties that compel the U.S. to extradite Luis Posada Carriles: “1. The Extradition Treaty between the United States and Venezuela signed on January 19, 1922, 2. The International Convention on Civil Aviation signed in Montreal on September 23, 1971, and 3. the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings signed on December 15, 1997.”